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Sunset With No Traffic
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ISBN-10: 1-55404-021-3
ISBN-13: 
Genre: Supernatural/Horror
eBook Length: 176 Pages
Published: January 2003
OUT OF PRINT

From inside the flap

Marc Sanchez leads you on eighteen trips into mayhem, madness, and the macabre. You?ll witness murder by Internet, some very personal demons, some excessively assertive non-smokers, a couple of everyday psychos, a dangerous Goth chick or two, an absinthe brewer that is out of this world, a handful of unusual vampire hunters, the harvesting of human endorphins for profit, and a few other surreal and frightful nightmares. Twice nominated for the Literary Pushcart Prize, Sanchez will spin your psyche and introduce you to his rabid muse.

RAMSEY CAMPBELL says this collection is "Raw, dark, and bleak."


Sunset With No Traffic (Excerpt)


AUTHOR’S NOTES

I wrote my first book when I was five years old, the year was 1967. It was a two chapter, ten page character driven piece entitled the bog who hated cats. Hey, my "d" was turned around, and the word was supposed to "dog", what can I say? My Dad stapled some blue construction paper around several blank pages and I wrote "Book made by Erni" {misspelling my dad’s name: Ernie} on the inside back cover.

I still have it. Its worth a million bucks.

My parents were hippies in the San Francisco Bay Area in the late 60's and early 70's and sold dope from our hilltop house in Marin County. Fairfax, to be precise. Our next door neighbor was Sam Andrew, the lead guitarist for Janis Joplin, and Big Brother and the Holding Company.

I thought their music was too loud, and that woman didn?t sing very well. Hey! I was a nine year old hippie kid that smoked dope and thought that the theme song to Speed Racer was the greatest song ever written. This wild lady with the untamed hair and bushy armpits was always sucking on a bottle and screaming into a microphone while her tits fell out of her blouse. This was singing? This was a superstar?

Auntie Janis. Foggy memories. Today, I?m blown away by that music.

I guess the next famous person to come from Fairfax was that American-Taliban guy, John Walker Lindh.

So one summer, 1971 I think it was, maybe, I sat in my bedroom unable to sleep nights for the parties that were going on at our house, and I wrote three screenplays. One about some runaway kids with guns, one western with lots of guns, and one army flick with even more guns. I wrote them after toking up pot with my Mom and Dad, who believed that by smoking marijuana and sipping on red wine with their kids, they were enlightening us. At age nine. Fucking nine year old druggie, man, writing about running away and shooting people. And I was supposed to be one of the original Flower Children? Hah!

Peace, Love, and Mayhem, baby, helping to prove the theory that kids gravitate away from what their parents embody. Although it’s usually from white-bread-uptight-curfew-lock-down-right-wing-campaigning-for-the-GOP-parenthood that drives their offspring to free sex, drugs, and war protests, mine went the other way.

From peace-loving hippie to horror-loving tyrant. Human nature.

I sent the screenplays off to Kubrick, Fellini, and Hitchcock, respectively. I have the letters Stanley Kubrick and Alfred Hitchcock wrote me regarding my screenplays framed and on the wall here in my office. Fellini never wrote back.

You believe that?

I hope, at least, that you suspended your knee-jerk reaction to disbelieve that previous statement. Of course, as one who’s stories tend to run in the arena of supernatural and surreal horror, the suspension of disbelief is a requirement for enjoying my stuff.

Here’s a few words on the tales:


The E-Mail


I got the idea for this story after watching the movie Lost Highway. David Lynch is my favorite director and screen writer. He has inspired me more than I care to mention. Some people think that his stuff is a bunch of jumbled surrealism, done for surrealism’s sake. But they just don?t get David Lynch. I get Lynch, which isn?t a snobbish statement. It simply means that I must be as freaking crazy as he is. Same wavelength and all of that. I love his work, his vision. The whole being greater than the sum of its parts.

In Lost Highway there is a part of the movie where Bill Pullman’s character finds an unmarked videotape on his doorstep. The tape is a shot of the front of his house as the videographer walks up to the front door. "Must be some real estate guy" he says to Patricia Arquette. The next day, another video appears at his door. This time, the camera walks up his front steps and into his house. Now he’s getting a little disturbed. The next day’s video has the camera walk us down the hall and into the bedroom, where we see Pullman’s character and his wife sleeping in their bed...and I won?t go any further. That creeped me right the fuck out, pardon my Spanish.

Just the thought that someone could actually stand over you while you slept in your holy of holiest places, your castle, your domain, your fucking bedroom, man. The place where every human being should feel the absolute safest from all manner of scumbag evil on this planet. Just the idea that someone would violate that, and then film you as you slept, without you ever knowing they were even there! And then actually send you the footage to let you know exactly how vulnerable you are, that was truly scary to me.

That’s not really the gist of The E-Mail, which was originally entitled Link, but it was the spark for this tale. It received several recommendations for the Horror Writer’s Association’s Bram Stoker Award for outstanding achievement in short fiction. It was also nominated for the Literary Pushcart Prize for Short Fiction in 2001.


Freeway Blues


I knew a lady who visited me one day and told me that she had received a call from her daughter who lived in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her daughter had been involved in a car wreck. She was driving home from work on the freeway, it was dark. A drunk had wandered on to the freeway and she struck him doing 55 mph. She was pinned in her car for over two hours while they used the Jaws of Life to extricate her, with the dead drunk draped over her steering wheel the whole time, practically in her face, dripping his life out onto her lap. Needless to say, the daughter was severely traumatized.

I knew that I had to incorporate that into a tale one day. This is it. It was also recommended for the Bram Stoker Award under the title Anguish Manifest.


Curiouser


This is one of those stories that wrote itself. I started out with the opening scene and then it just flowed from there. Originally the story ended with Alice’s arrival in the den, and her meeting the cloaked figure. That version of the story was rejected over and over again, every place that I sent it. The editors would say things like, "What the heck does this mean?" and "I don?t understand this."

I finally added another 500 words, sent the story in a different direction and...voila! It became my first pro sale, appearing in the Horror Haven anthology under the title Through the Looking Glass Darkly {the editors asked if I would consider changing the title}, which at the time of this writing, hasn?t come out yet but is set to debut at the World Horror Convention in 2003.

I was editing an anthology of surreal horror and got to talking with Thomas Ligotti {trying very hard not to act starstruck, Ligotti is the bomb, man, the freaking nuke}. He asked if he could see some of my work, I sent him this one, and gave me a blurb for it. He called it, "A nasty little piece."

Thanks, Tom.


Must Be Like Heaven


Every once in a while this dude visits my brain, pushes me out of the chair, and decides to tell a story. This same dude had visited me once prior to the writing of this tale and dictated to me the story entitled This is Life which also appears in this collection. Same dude, different day. The "Howie" of Howie Pops Microwave Popcorn is a nod to H.P. Lovecraft. I?m always doing stuff like that.

Sunset With No Traffic


I wrote this story specifically for a themed anthology on vampire cockroaches, or something along those lines. It was promptly rejected for being too blatant about the theme, and for being what is sometimes called "overwritten" {I purposely did that to come across as "campy" but...}. One positive comment the anthology’s editor made was, "I like the ?dysfunctional octogenarian storming a Viagra sale? simile."

There was a discussion on the message board of the Horror Writer’s Association about what some of us would do with our stories, should they get rejected from the vampire cockroach anthology. I mean, every editor in town would look at it and immediately go, "Oh, another vampire cockroach anthology reject ." One writer said, "I?d probably just stick it in a collection of mine, it may someday actually see publication that way."

One week after I received my rejection, this collection of my short stories was picked up by Double Dragon. So it will see print after all.

I actually like this tale.

One other positive comment the rejecting editor made about this piece was, "I really like the title."

Heh heh...


Perceptions


I?m not even going to go into how I got the inspiration for this tale, other than to say that I quit drinking in 1987, and I quit doing drugs in 1991.

Goth Chik


I wrote this tale back in the summer of 2001. I had one of those, "What if..." statements in the form of a picture running through my mind. I thought, "What if, just moments before you were about to die, you were allowed to see the person of Death?" I know, real original, huh? I pictured walking down a crowded city sidewalk at rush hour, seeing the hooded Grim Reaper standing head and shoulders above the crowd, grinning as he strode toward me {someone, please tell me this is a repressed movie memory from the 70's}.

Then I said, "Fuck it." Pardon my Spanish. I changed things a little, and ended up with this story. My buddy, Hertzan Chimera {another author with a collection from Double Dragon} says its one of his all-time favorite short stories. Because of that, I am now positive that he has bad taste. Of course, he would appreciate being told he has bad taste.

By the way, I was a member of a writing workshop when I wrote this, and one "critiquer" informed me that my character Death was a lot like Neil Gaiman’s character in his Sandman series. I had never heard of Neil Gaiman at the time. This prompted me to check out his work, and the first thing by Neil I ever read was Harlequin Valentine...I have been a fan ever since.

This story received my first-ever recommendation for the HWA’s Bram Stoker Award.


Lady Wormwood


I had watched the film "Moulin Rouge" and wanted to write a tale revolving around the production of Absinthe. After some research, this piece just poured out as I sat to write. While in the middle of this tale, an anthology centering around absinthe was announced. I sent the tale off, and as of this date {about 10 months later} I haven?t heard anything.

Lady Artemisia demanded to be in the story. In my opinion, she is one of the most intriguing and scary characters I have ever written. What’s even scarier, is that I didn?t invent her, she just appeared in my head and forced her way into the tale. She also forced her way into my newest novel Skinny Lions with a whole tribe of like femmes.

Bitch.

Again, The Grunting


This story was actually based on a nightmare I once had.


This is Life


This is a Rant is what this should have been called. That gnarly dude who is also responsible for Must Be Like Heaven visited me one night and told me to write it down, so I did, and ShadowKeep Zine promptly scooped it up. It is a personal favorite. The comment about the Blue Whale was an actual comment made by an actual television evangelist I came across while actually channel surfing at three o?clock in the actual morning.

Waterfowl: Feeding the Geese


Our street walking protagonist in this story, Turk, is a real person {or he was, he may not be alive anymore, I don?t know}. We lived in Hawaii, on Kauai, from 1973 through 1981{for me, that was fifth grade through joining the Coast Guard}, specifically, in the town of Kapaa {pop.3000}. My bedroom window was right by the street and this shell-shocked Korean War veteran, named Turk, used to walk the streets at night, chain-smoking and shouting "Fukashima! Hah...hah...hah..." at the top of his voice. Really spooky. But he always seemed like he was happy, and never bothered anyone. There were a lot of nuts running around Kapaa town in those days. Mostly disturbed veterans from one war or another. Mainly Vietnam.

My wife and I went on a trip to Kauai in 1994, and I saw Turk while cruising my old stomping grounds, stopped the rental car, rolled the video camera, and asked him if he remembered me. All he said was "Ooooh, Hello Ma-mahhh."


For All of the Little People


If you figure this one out, write me, and I?ll send you money. This is a very specific allegory. It was nominated for the Literary Pushcart Prize for short fiction in 2002.


Sleeping Sand, Silent Cloud


This is another allegory. More money if you get it right.

While They Howled


I got the idea for this story while watching one of my favorites, The History Channel. They were interviewing Nazi concentration camp survivors, and the tale that one survivor shared regarding what happened to the guards on the day the camp was liberated by the American soldiers was so chilling, that it just had to be put into a piece of fiction; truth being stranger than. The ending of this piece, the fate that befell the guards, according to the survivor’s story, is true.


Second-Hand Smoke


One lazy summer night I sat in a coffee shop and saw an old lady give these kids a dirty look after they lit up their cigarettes. The sign said "No Smoking" and I don?t think the kids knew that. But boy, oh boy, did that old woman know it.

This story was downloaded into my brain in that very nanosecond. That happens a lot. Another one of those "What if..." scenarios. What if there were actual mobs of avid non-smokers, seeking out smokers who violate the No Smoking ordinances?


Pharmakon


While I was researching fallen angels and the Grigori for my story Lady Wormwood, this tale was downloaded into my head in another one of those "nanoseconds."


Deep Acolyte


This tale is a morph of an excerpt from the first novel I ever completed entitled Cthulhu’s Bane. It is a Cthulhu Mythos tale, and Double Dragon will be publishing the novel in the Fall of 2003.

I would have to say that next to Stephen King {for his approach to the craft, not necessarily for his body of work} and David Lynch, H.P. Lovecraft has been the biggest influence on my writing. Being a former Evangelical Christian Pastor and Biblical scholar, I was completely intrigued by Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos. It was closer to the truth {in my humble opinion} than I cared to think about, and has been a source for many tales.

Yes, it’s okay to honestly believe that I am insane. I am.


Endorphins Are a Girl’s Best Friend


I wrote this story for an anthology that a buddy of mine, Kealan-Patrick Burke, was editing. It was his first anthology project entitled The Hour of Pain. He rejected it, buddy or no, the sign of a true pro.

This was called a "Joe R. Lansdale meets Quentin Tarentino type of romp" by someone, can?t remember who, and was the first short story I ever made money at. Alternate Realities published it and sent me a check for five bucks.

I framed it. Heh heh...

The check, not the tale. There is a comic artist currently working on this, we?ll turn it into a graphic novella. I hope.

Sure hope you enjoy these tales.

Marc Sanchez

Oregon Coast, December 2002

Sole Gloria Deo


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TABLE OF CONTENTS

E-Mail

Freeway Blues

Curiouser

Must Be Like Heaven

Sunset With No Traffic

Perceptions

Goth Chick

Lady Wormwood

Again, The Grunting

This is Life

Waterfowl: Feeding the Geese

For All of the Little People

Sleeping Sand, Silent Cloud

While They Howled

Second-Hand Smoke

Pharmakon

Deep Acolyte

Endorphins Are a Girl’s Best Friend